Second Times Square Screen-Jacker Tells Us How He Did It

On Tuesday night, Toronto entrepreneur Adi Isakovic projected images from his smartphone onto a giant advertising screen in Times Square. This is the multimedia stunt de jour; a marketing team gained virility (that's the term for when your video goes viral, right?) when they performed a hoax with the same outcome earlier this month. We spoke with Adi Isakovic via email, and he told us how he got content from his phone onto a 5,000-square-foot screen hovering above Seventh Avenue.

There was no a magical beam involved, unless you count wireless signals as "magical" (which they kind of are). The screen in Times Square was connected to the internet. He leased the screen (at a discounted price) from an advertising company and gained access to it. "It's basically just a giant screen hooked up to a PC (like the one most people have at home) behind a few extra layers of security," he told us.

Tubemote, Adi's company, lets users use their phones as a browser-based remote. As long as the screen has internet access, smartphone users can upload content to said screen. That's what what was going on in Times Square on Tuesday night. So whether it's Limitless or Tubemote, everyone who has "hacked" into those giant screens has done so as some sort of promotion. It's a sad day; trans-platform multimedia demonstrations have gone commercial.

Unfortunately, the technology where you can control any screen (movie theater, wrist watch, silk) with your phone has yet to be invented. You may be disappointed, but if we told you about Adi's stunt fifteen years ago your mind would punch its way out of your skull.

Humorously enough, the Times Square mega-screen was operating Internet Explorer 8, which explains "some technical difficulties for the first 15 minutes." Is there anything that browser can't ruin?

And why show Midtown Manhattan a video of a miniature poodle? "I tried to get in touch with Ryan Gentles (the manager of the Strokes) to ask for permission to play their latest music video in HD," Adi said, "but his voice-mailbox was full."

We may not offer a giant screen, but here's some (old) Strokes anyway:

Let's put all this Times Square screen-hacking to bed, shall we? It has become the Rebecca Black of guerrilla marketing. On to the Goodyear Blimp!

[ngreene@villagevoice.com / @nickgreene]



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